Tickets like gold dust, floodlit stadiums that seat thousands, supporters dressed in their team’s colours waving foam thumbs and scarves and singing the team song at the top of their voices with their friends. Thinking of a Premiership football match? You’d be wrong.
Actually, this is the scene at a typical American University during an American Football game. The most popular sport in the United States, college football attracts crowds of thousands of students, teachers, alumni and even locals. American college-level sportsmen and women play on scholarships, and from there make the step to the pros. There are thousands of dollars invested in sports facilities in American universities and men’s football and basketball is broadcast nationally, generating a lot of money for universities. Florida State University comes together the night before any home game for a pep-rally party in downtown Tallahassee where there are food vendors, jugglers, lights, music and dance and everyone gets into a school-spirit mood that raises the importance of the next day’s game for already competitive Americans. Students and lecturers alike follow their team’s performance and on match days the campus is crowded with people wearing University attire to show their support.
Here at Nottingham, sports teams are lucky if even their friends come and cheer them on. The lack of bleachers at the astro-turf, swimming pool or sports centres mean they cannot accommodate any cheering potential supporters. There is team spirit from within, but the disinterest of many students dampens teams’ successes on the pitch, the court, or in the pool. Every Wednesday we have Athletic Union night, but the majority of people out partying probably wouldn’t be able to tell you the day’s sporting results.
This is not solely the fault of apathetic students, but also due to the facilities available and our national culture, in which it has never been very ‘hip’ to ‘waste time’ supporting your fellow students sweating it out on the pitch. Funny, then, that come June the World Cup will throw England into football (the proper sort) fever; crying over missed penalties and ‘oh-so-nears’, singing ‘Vindaloo’ and skipping work to watch the matches. Why does no one here support sport on a smaller level? Whether it is laziness or the fact that local sport just isn’t as fun here as in America, a sports-obsessed country on every level, it would be great if on Wednesdays crowds of people gathered to cheer on the teams. And it might actually be quite good fun…